In a vibrant display of solidarity, the River of Pride Parade seized downtown Moncton on a recent Saturday afternoon. “Today’s celebration resonates the essence of happiness and individuality,” said the Riverview Pride lead, Lynn Bourque-Chevarie.
Featuring an engaging crowd more sizeable than expected, Bourque-Chevarie delightedly noted, “This turnout spells involvement and enthusiasm in our community, as they join us in joyous celebration.”
Around 100 participants with additional parade floats marked this year’s event. “It’s not merely Moncton; it’s our tri-community of Riverview, Dieppe, and Moncton uniting for this cause. Participants came from as far as Fredericton and Nova Scotia which is heartwarming,” she said.
The theme of unity was reiterated, with the diverse crowd represented by diverse ages and cultural backgrounds, encapsulating the very spirit of community itself.
Echoing this sentiment was Kevin Hache, the former mayor of Caraquet, who travelled to Moncton for the Parade. He heightened his personal mantra to carry an important message: “Being normal, being a safe member of the society, being an attorney and a former mayor, I aim to be a beacon of affirmation for the youth today. I want them to realise how perfectly fine it is to be gay.”
This year’s events held high significance as Policy 713 remained an important topic for many New Brunswickers and a travel advisory was issued by the Canadian government for parts of the United States for LGBTQ+ community members.
Hache added, “Pride unquestionably stands as the most significant feature of current times in our province. It is a heartening sight to see young minds, children, loved and supported by open-minded parents. Policy 713 isn’t for them. It seeks to uplift those who fear to reveal their identity and those who fear confiding in their parents.”
The parade beautifully fostered a union of music, colour, bubbles, and community kinship. Reflections of change were brought to light by Riverview resident, Jim Kinnie. Having returned after 33 years, Kinnie pointed out the stark contrast from his childhood experience in the city during the 70s and late 80s.
“My birthplace has transformed. The changes initiated spark joy and instil pride,” said Kinnie, voicing his concerns about the upcoming academic year. His message was clear, “We hold an unconditional right to be ourselves.”
Bourque-Chevarie concluded with the festival’s basic sentiment, “‘This is me,’ and that’s what we’re sticking to. Everyone should take pride in their identity, in who they are, and what they do. That forms the very core of this festival.”
The Pride Parade painted a vivid tale of an ever-evolving society embracing change, celebrating diversity, and holding steadfast to the promise of individuality. The celebrations set to continue throughout the weekend, culminating in a grand prom held on Sunday night.